The Vikings and Packers played less than a month ago, but Minnesota has to expect to see a much different look from Green Bay this time around.
The reason is twofold.
First, the Packers offensive line had a horrific night in a 30-23 loss and Vikings right end Jared Allen abused fill-in left tackle Daryn Colledge as he recorded 4.5 sacks. Actually, Colledge wasn't even around for Allen's last sack because he left the game due to an injury.
Second, Green Bay's defensive game plan under coordinator Dom Capers figures to be different against Brett Favre. Favre completed 24 of 31 passes for 271 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Favre also was not sacked and far too often it seemed that defensive end turned linebacker Aaron Kampman dropped into coverage.
Kampman is putting his hand on the ground more these days and it seems a near certainty he will be trying to apply pressure on Favre this time around. The Packers also have safety Atari Bibgy back in the lineup.
The Vikings, meanwhile, are going to have to get back to their bread-and-butter run game after Favre threw 50 passes last Sunday in a loss at Pittsburgh. Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson had 18 carries. Peterson is the guy that is going to make this offense go and the run to pass ratio has to get closer or else Minnesota could be in trouble.
The Vikings defense did a nice job of covering up for the loss of left cornerback Antoine Winfield against the Steelers and likely will play another game without him. Aaron Rodgers figures to be looking that way but there is no way the Packers can keep the Vikings in the nickel as often as the Steelers did considering Green Bay has injury issues at wide receiver.
The pressure from the outside is on Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers to make amends for what he did in the first matchup against Brett Favre and the Vikings offense just four weeks ago. While Capers was lauded for bottling up running back Adrian Peterson, who ran for only 55 yards and an average of 2.2 yards per carry, he lost sight of what Favre could do throwing the football. Capers refrained from heavy blitzing in Green Bay's 3-4 scheme, and Favre picked the secondary apart for 271 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-31 accuracy in the Vikings' seven-point win.
The Packers still consider the electric Peterson to be the top priority to contain, but their reconfigured lineup since the earlier meeting should allow Capers to be more aggressive with the play calls. Pass-rushing linebacker Aaron Kampman is being used at the line more, hard-hitting safety Atari Bigby is playing again after an early-season knee injury, and rookie linebacker Clay Matthews is a full-time playmaker.
On offense, the Packers also figure to try to change things up after head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy all but abandoned the run game in the loss at the Metrodome - featured back Ryan Grant carried the football only 11 times for 51 yards. Grant is coming off a season-best outing of 27 carries for 148 yards against the Cleveland Browns. Getting him active and churning out yards from the outset Sunday will further soften a suspect back end of the Vikings defense that could be without injured leader Antoine Winfield at cornerback. Aaron Rodgers outdid Favre with 384 yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-37 throwing in the first game, despite being under constant duress (career-high eight sacks). The offensive line has a lot to prove in this one.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings DE Jared Allen, who is fourth in the NFL with 7.5 sacks, vs. Packers LT T.J. Lang, who is starting in place of the injured Chad Clifton. Allen abused the Packers last time around, getting 4.5 sacks against Green Bay on Oct. 5, but that was when guard turned tackle Daryn Colledge spent most of the game filling in for Clifton. Lang made his first career start last Sunday at Cleveland and played pretty well, according to accounts. Nonetheless, Allen figures to be an extremely tough matchup for Lang and one has to assume the Packers will give the rookie plenty of help with chips.
Packers LT T.J. Lang or Chad Clifton vs. Vikings RDE Jared Allen. The nightmare of having Allen in on 4.5 of the eight sacks Minnesota produced against Aaron Rodgers in the teams' first meeting Oct. 5 is still fresh for the Packers. The seasoned Clifton didn't play in that game because of an ankle sprain, and the lingering injury makes him iffy for the rematch. As it stands, rookie Lang would make only his second pro start, giving Allen a decided advantage on paper. Yet, Lang received praise from his coaches for doing a decent job lined up opposite Allen for most of the second half in the first meeting after replacing an injured Daryn Colledge, who was overmatched by the speedy pass rusher. Lang since had a solid starting debut Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. The versatile Lang moves well and has a spirited temperament that could work in his favor against the high-strung Allen.
Packers nickel back Tramon Williams vs. Vikings WR Sidney Rice. Green Bay played extensively in its nickel packages in the first meeting. That means Charles Woodson will slide inside to cover the slot, leaving Williams in a one-on-one matchup on the left side against Rice. Williams had a lackluster performance against the up-and-coming Rice the last time out. Williams slipped in man-to-man coverage on a 24-yard catch by Rice, who also had a 14-yard touchdown on broken zone coverage. Rice had five receptions for 70 yards in the game. He has become Brett Favre's top target the last few games, so look for the sly quarterback to try to exploit Williams.
Vikings-Packers game plan
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